Sunday, 5 October 2014

How to boost your garden list

Last night's near-frost here at Westcott, Bucks caused the expected severe reduction in the number of moths caught by the garden actinic trap, which amounted to just 18 individuals of two species (a single Dusky-lemon Sallow accompanying the Lunar Underwings).  However, despite the continued low temperatures today it was sufficiently sunny to tempt a few things out and I had activity in the garden from Anthophila fabriciana and a Vapourer, while a pug caterpillar (possibly V-Pug) was found munching away on an Osteospermum flower.

Now is a very good time to search for leaf mines and today I concentrated on our garden hawthorn, finding evidence of nine species:  Bucculatrix bechsteinella, Stigmella hybnerella, Phyllonorycter leucographella, Lyonetia clerkella & Parornix anglicella (all vacated mines) as well as Stigmella oxyacanthella, Stigmella regiella, Phyllonorycter corylifoliella & Phyllonorycter oxyacanthae (all containing active larvae).  In addition, an active coleophorid case was found but it proved to be one of Coleophora coracipennella/prunifoliae/ spinosella which are difficult if not impossible to separate at this stage (all three species have been recorded in the garden as adults).

For those of you who haven't indulged in looking for leaf-mines, there is an excellent resource here ( to help identify these early stages.  A good starting point would be to download and print off the mine-keys.  Most leaf-miners are specific to a particular host plant or tree.  The position of the egg, the type and shape of the mine, the colour and patterns made by the caterpillar's frass and, if present, the colour and markings of the larva itself all help to identify some of our smallest moth species, many of which are exceedingly difficult to separate as adults.

Dave Wilton

Pug caterpillar, Westcott 5th October

Vacated mine of Stigmella hybnerella, Westcott 5th October

Active mine of Stigmella oxyacanthella, Westcott 5th October


1 comment:

  1. thanks for the suggestion Dave, this is something I've yet to do but something I'd like to try.


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